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50 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Claims a place in my heart for Best Autobiographical military history
I have read countless military history books by now and all the autobiographical ones follow a set pattern: young blood doesn't know he'll make the cut, eventually finds he's doing reasonably well, and reaches a certain proficiency, then becomes depressed with the hopelessness of war and loss. Wellum's book follows the same path but more than any other he puts the reader...
Published on 8 Dec 2006 by M. Boylan

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10 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not gripping
Straight from the horses mouth you can't get closer to a spitfire than this. Or can you? Although the author is clearly made of the right stuff it doesn't make him a great writer. Whole swathes of the war are missed out: there's nothing really about his first battle: how he feels and what happens, nor of his first kill. It's almost as if somebody has taken a diary and...
Published on 28 Aug 2005 by G. Thulbourn


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5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!, 17 Mar 2009
By 
Mark Bradley - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: First Light (Paperback)
I rarely read and I never give reviews but I feel that having just finished this book less than 10 minutes ago I am compelled to spread the word of how good this piece of literature is!

Geoffrey Wellum will take you on a story from joining the RAF, through training at the age of 16 all the way through his exploits as an RAF Pilot in the second world war, The dogfights with the me 109's and the patrols he gave to bombers going over France are in detail. You feel that you're in the plane with him, willing him to get out of trouble and get back to England safely.

This is a superb book, You will be totally gripped. Quite simply a must read!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quite simply humbling., 10 Mar 2009
By 
Mr. J. Bramley "iFoneGooner" (Scunthorpe, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: First Light (Paperback)
I have over many years since a child read countless books about fighter pilots from two world wars. I have read about fighter pilots from the other side as well. This book, out of all the accounts from those such as Deere, Bader, Johnnie Johnson, Galland simply stands out tall. Why? Well quite frankly it is the first account I can ever remember where you could almost taste and more importantly feel, the fear as this young boy became a man hurling a killing machine through the skies over England. I only have one misgiving, the book was not long enough for me, I just wanted to read and read and I never wanted it to end. Humbling, yes. Inspirational, certainly. Awesome in execution, without equal.
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5.0 out of 5 stars First Class, 28 Feb 2009
This review is from: First Light (Paperback)
This book is wonderfully written and a compelling read. I am in agreement with all the positive comments made by other reviewers; it is an unusually fine accomplishment. In a parallel vein is John Welham's "With Naval Wings" and I recommend this autobiography equally.

Apart from painting personal cameos of the horror, privations and successes characterising the conflict, these works cause us to reflect upon what has happened to a country so valiantly defended by this selfless generation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars First Light, 9 Jan 2004
By 
D J W (West London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: First Light (Paperback)
Simply superb.
I usualy enjoy a different genre but on the advice of a friend decided to give it try. If it still interested me after a couple of hours, I thought, then I might try and plough on through. As it turned out I read the whole thing in one sitting and was instantly captivated.
From his rather shakey start as a very young and imature potential pilot officer through to his eventual near breakdown in crete and all the harrowing experiences of the battle of Britain in between, you get a vivid picture of life as an operational fighter pilot during world war two.
The things that really stand out are the first engagement, the bf 110's and the escort duties.
I will say no more and will let you just sit back, enjoy it and like me, wish it hadn't ended quite so quickly.
I have, since reading this, tried a couple more books of this type but I can honestly say that this has been by far the best read for me for a very long time. Enjoy!
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5.0 out of 5 stars First Light - Best personal account of the Battle of Britain, 7 Jan 2004
This review is from: First Light (Paperback)
You actually feel like you are up there with him, the stories are gripping and at the same time I find in incredible that anyone could survive many of the scenerios Wellum found himself up against. But yet he survived them all. A truly remarkable read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars First Light, 4 Dec 2003
By 
Lorimer Burn (Guildford, Surrey, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: First Light (Paperback)
I read this book in just 2 days (all 338 pages), including 2 extremely late nights, compulsively turning the pages, unable to stop.
It is rare I find myself transported entirely into another world and time frame, as I was while reading this story. My real daily life was a grind - and I say that as an airline pilot who has been flying for nearly 40 years!
My overriding desire was to get back to those pages and rejoin Geoffrey in his world of unimaginable danger, exemplary flying skill, and the enveloping camaradery he found in his fellow pilots and the homeliness of the RAF Mess.
When I reached the inevitable end of all that Geoffrey wanted to share with me, I felt bereft, longing to learn more.
Geoffrey's style is simple, racy, intimate; his use of the English language is beautiful, and for a welcome change, I never saw a single spelling or punctuation error!
This story is simply one of the best I have ever read - of any kind!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read, 2 Dec 2003
By 
Mark Lillywhite "mlillywh" (Reading, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: First Light (Paperback)
As a lad I always wanted to be a pilot and this book has to be the closest thing to actually joining the RAF and learning to fly. Well written, involving, not too technical and full of really good descritpions. Its like sitting in the cockpit with him...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely stunning, 19 Jun 2002
By 
A. J. Sudworth "tonysudworth" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This book is a gripping account of what it was like to fight in Spitfires in WW2 - but its more than that - it charts how a person can be worn down by the sheer brutality and never ending pressure of war. I sat down to read it and did the first 200 pages without stopping it so caught my imagination. You really feel you were there as 'Boy' fights for his and the UK's survival.
You can go from laughter to shock in a matter of a few lines - just two examples
One pilot describes himself as having three Me109's on his tail ' but not to worry I've got them surrounded'
The description of how the author and his wing man, stalk and literally execute two low flying german airplanes is breathtaking
If you want a great read, an insight into how war brutalises people and the sheer guts of 'The Few' then read this book
One the best books I have read in the last three or four years
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "must read" - brilliantly written, totally accessibly first hand account, 14 Sep 2010
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This memoir is remarkable in many ways, not least the lack of aircraft jargon. Instead of code words and numbers there is a beautifully written, honest and illuminating insight into what it was like to be alone in a hostile, yet heavenly sky, a near-child in a world that was too much for most adults to endure. It is an insight to the thoughts and feelings of a young man at the centre of extraordinary event. It is also as close as most of us will ever come to knowing and feeling what it was like to fly and fight in a Spitfire.

The recent BBC film is a pale shadow of the book, indeed I would say it's single benefit was to give me an awareness of the book and an incentive to read it brefore seeing the film.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough, not only to those interested in aircraft, WW2 and the Battle of Britian, but anybody with an interest in the human psyche. This is a book to treasure and we should thank the authour not only for fighting the war, but giving us this unique and totally engaging account.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super autobiography of a spitfire pilot., 14 Sep 2006
This review is from: First Light (Paperback)
I probably won't say anything new about the book that has not already been said by the many other people who have reviewed this book. Nonetheless, I will add my voice to the many good things already said. A super book which I read in about two days if not a bit less. It has some very moving moments and gives an excellent portrayal of the feelings of a spitfire pilot. It has a great human touch and I would recommend it to anyone.
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First Light by Geoffrey Wellum (Paperback - 1 May 2003)
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